Our new test method is briefly described here. The scores on diagrams are relative to that of our reference testbed that always scores 100 points. It's based on the AMD Athlon II X4 620 CPU, 8GB of RAM and Palit's NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1280MB. Detailed (absolute) results are traditionally provided in this summary.
Final 3D rendering
Mathematical and engineering computations
Raster graphics processing
Vector graphics processing
Since we're testing quite different processors today, we decided to add results of a secondary test as well. The idea is simple: five benchmarks are run nearly simultaneously (with 15-second intervals), and all processes are sent to background (none of the application windows are active). The result is a geometrical mean of benchmark completion times. Note that secondary tests are experimental and such results are not included into overall score.
Overall score and final thoughts
From a purely technical standpoint, Llano's results are good: these APUs outperform Propus, so it seems that the latter may leave the market — all except the highest-end model that performs similarly to A8-3850. However, it would be a pity to cancel the whole family, because these dies can still do in higher-frequency models. The same can be said about Phenom II X4 900 series: these lose to Llano at the same clock rate, but AMD now ships models clocked at 3.2+ GHz, a level the A-Series cannot reach. In other words, the new APUs are fine, if you don't mind the price.
Speaking of price, there are a few drawbacks, because, say, Phenom II X4 955 costs like A8-3850. As for Intel models, A8-3850 competes not with Core i3-2100 but with i3-2120 (for now, because the company plans to reduce its price). And Core i3-2100 is just $2 more expensive (wholesale) than A6-3650. So what's the point in the A-Series?
In graphics, which we didn't test today. The new APUs turned out this big and expensive for having a powerful, improved GPU as well. Intel, in turn, seriously improved the processor part, and you can see that in the results of new and old Core i3. As for graphics, their move from GMA HD to GMA HD 3000 isn't much of a leap forward, a small step maybe. So, AMD decided to focus on integrated graphics, and the fact that the processor part was also improved is just a bonus. The key point of the Sabine/Lynx platform is high level of integration that enables full-fledged inexpensive PCs (with gaming graphics, quad-core CPUs, up-to-date peripherals, including good USB 3.0 support) with just two chips. Well, Intel's counterparts are also dual-chip, but they do require discrete graphics to play games. Besides, until next year, USB 3.0 will be provided by auxillary (optional) controllers. So although A-Series processors can be used with fast, discrete NVIDIA graphics, this isn't their purpose. Llano should be used with its integrated graphics or with AMD's low-end discrete cards as well, because these two will work together and your money won't be spent in vain. In one of future reviews we'll see whether such configurations will be any good.
Note that while we wrote this review, AMD introduced another FM1 processor, Athlon II X4 631. It's the same as A6-3650, but the graphics core is disabled. On the other hand, it's wholesale price is just $79 — on the level of Pentium G800, with which A6-3650 (and hence Athlon II X4 631) can compete well. How does it relate to Llano's high cost price? Well, a graphics core is prone to errors like any other part. If all 400 pipelines are good, you get an A8. If only 320 work, you get A6. If the graphics core is defective, AMD will sell it at a lower price. Even cheaper than triple-core Athlon II X3 460 ($87). In other words, this approach is not surprising, but it still gives you something to think about in relation to the prospects of the Lynx platform.
We thank Corsair, G.Skill and Palit for providing PC parts for our testbeds.
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